Blogs

Future of Work, Leadership and Organisations (2020)

Alicia Cheak - Research Associate

Future of Work, Leadership and Organisations

 

The 4th Industrial Revolution, or age of rapid technological advances, is changing the way people work with disruptive impact on business, global economy and broader society (WEF, 2020). Future of work trends generally describe a workforce that is increasingly diverse, dispersed, digital, and dynamic. The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated these shifts, pushing companies to fast track the adoption of technologies and remote working. But what are the human consequences of these new ways of working, and how do they align with aspirations for the future of work?

 

Technology and human impact

 

Technological advances are changing the way people work and are outpacing organisational ability to keep up, although individuals (especially Millennials) are relatively more adaptive.

 

Technology can be a powerful tool to create connections, increase efficiency and create more flexibility in when and where we work. However, the paradox of ubiquitous technology use is that it can overtake and overwhelm. It’s pervasiveness in every aspect of our lives has also inadvertently created a mindset of being connected and available all the time.

 

Research on human capital trends show that employees and organisations are more overwhelmed than ever. Stress, burnout, loneliness, isolation and informational overload are now mainstream concerns. Workload and burnout, in turn, affect retention: 84% of millennials say they have experienced burnout at their current job and nearly half of millennials say they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out. (Deloitte, 2015Open Access Government, 2018). 

 

The pervasiveness of technology in our lives has also created a growing sense of loneliness. Young adults are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression, linked to uncertainty of the future and use of social media. According to a 2018 Cigna research study, most Americans are considered lonely; for many people, the workplace is the only place they regularly have the opportunity to interact and connect with other people. (HBR 2018Washington Post, 2018). 

 

A third phenomenon is work performance drugs and addiction: Millennials are more affected by opioid use through smart drugs and micro-dosing to keep pace and boost their performance at work (Quartz, 2018CNBC, 2019The Atlantic, 2013).

 

All these stressors impact engagement and performance. According to the Gallup Poll, only 15% of employees are engaged worldwide, and about 35% in the United States. Gallup also noted that organisations with high engagement rates put people first. There is great room for improvement, but where are specific levers for creating high performing and healthy ways of working?

 

Re-anchoring on meaning, purpose and personal responsibility

 

New generation workers, consisting of Millennials and Gen Z will make up about two thirds in the next decade. Gallup found four themes that collectively describe millennials: unattached, connected, unconstrained and idealistic. A more recent 2020 Deloitte report shows that Millennials are also a resilient generation with “resolve and a vision to build a better future”. Thus, despite facing unprecedented health and economic disruption, the new generation of workers is characterised by a strong sense of personal responsibility to take action and have a positive impact on their communities and society. 

 

Hence, next generation workers are now looking for meaningful careers bolstered by on demand, customised continuous learning experiences beyond just formal professional development programmes.

 

As technology becomes more integrated into our lives with automation and artificial intelligence replacing transactional and predictable work, higher value activities such as intuition, curiosity, colllaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking and problem solving come to the fore[1].

 

The changing nature of careers, with longer career life cycles stretching over 70 years, shorter tenure on jobs and shorter half-life of learned skills requires developmental experiences that promote lifelong learning and build up capability to adapt, connect and collaborate. Other distinctly human skills considered important are scientific and creative in nature such as team intelligence, risk taking, courage, curiosity and S.T.E.M (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

 

Meeting both performance and human needs 

 

Organisations of the future need to extend the notion of value from cost cutting to creating value through meaning. Such organisations inspire, connect and are purpose driven. They are characterised by shared values and culture, transparent goals and projects, free flow of information and feedback and people being rewarded for abilities, not position.

 

Companies should look beyond just reskilling and more broadly on leadership, structures, diversity, technology and overall employee experience. Agility also plays a key role, as companies replace structural hierarchies with networks of teams empowered to take action.

 

They also address meaningful work, purpose of organisation, talent development, growth, rewards and wellness, work environment, fairness and inclusion and authenticity.

 

Additionally, as a counterpoint to the shadow effect of technology, leaders will need the space to disconnect in order to reengage. These spaces allow them to pause, step back, and to reflect on challenges for long term problem solving. They also provide opportunities to engage in deep meaningful conversations to revitalize mutual connection and cooperation.

 

     

 

Most of the Future of Work trends reports acknowledge the uncertainty and anxiety with the rise of technology and consequences for the job force. Many of the reports convey a mix of apprehension and anxiety due to the pace of change, uncertainty, and lack of proactiveness for organisations to change, coupled with a countervailing push to harness technologies – rather than be controlled by them - in order to create a more inclusive, human-centered future.

 

In the end, it all comes down to people and values. As Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF writes: “We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them. In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny. It is incumbent on us all to make sure the latter prevails”.

 

Read further on Leadership for the Future: Creating conscious leaders and purpose-driven organisations

 

Add Comment

Go back


Related content

KDVI's Organisational Culture Transformation Framework

KDVI's Organisational Culture Transformation Framework

The purpose of this paper is to provide our clients with an understanding of our approach to organisational change and culture transformation. First, we describe the underlying challenges that organisations face, where change is the norm rather than the exception. We then propose that, by addressing both manifest and underlying factors, KDVI’s interventions go beyond a simplistic quick fix. Next, we provide an overview of the theoretical foundations of KDVI’s approach to organisational culture transformation, which lead to six concrete change principles that guide our work. We then map these principles into a general roadmap for a culture transformation programme in terms of phases and timelines. In the final section, we highlight the specific change levers that make KDVI’s approach unique.  

Leadership for the Future - Creating conscious leaders and purpose-driven organisations

Leadership for the Future - Creating conscious leaders and purpose-driven organisations

The increasing complexity and interdependency of business environments make the task of leadership in a global interconnected world ever more challenging. 

"Overview of the psycho- dynamic approach to leadership study"

Psychodynamic Approach

This working paper provides an overview of the psychodynamic approach, including historical underminnings, its key concepts, and includes three case studies with which to apply the psychodynamic approach as well as a short self-assessment on leadership archetype.

Published on 19 Jun, 2014

"Applying a psycho- dynamic lens to org studies"

Sociology of Leadership in Organizations

A chapter in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition on using a psychpdynamic lens to the study of organisational phenomenon.

Published on 24 Apr, 2015

"Rescuer syndrome and excessive helping behavior"

Leadership Coaching and the Rescuer Syndrome: How to Manage both Sides of the Couch

In this article the author explores the problem of excessive helping behavior—The Rescuer Syndrome—with particular reference to executive coaching.

Published on 9 Dec, 2010

"Leadership by terror: Saddam Hussein"

Entering the Inner Theatre of a Despot: The Rise and Fall of Saddam Hussein

This working paper investigates leadership by terror, a form of leadership that is both an ageless phenomenon and a contemporary problem.

Published on 1 Apr, 2003

"A review of leadership coaching"

Coach or Couch, Anybody? The Zen of Creating High-EQ Organizations

This working paper presents a review of leadership coaching, including the different forms of coaching, goals and what makes it work.

Published on 1 Mar, 2004

KDVI Learning Lab Conversation Series Spring 2021

KDVI Learning Lab Conversation Series Spring 2021

We are now a little over a year since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, alongside a broader backdrop of political and socioeconomic unrest and increasing climate catastrophes, have created a significant inflection point in many of our business-as-usual practices and expectations. While companies and individuals have and continue to experience major upheaval, this time has also brought forth opportunities for growth and change.

"Technology sector inter-ventions"

KDVI Interventions in the Technology Sector

Case studies on different KDVI interventions in the technology sector.

Published on 1 Sep, 2015

"Eight roles for leadership effectiveness"

The Eight Archetypes of Leadership

This blog entry with the Harvard Business Review addresses a number of recurring patterns of behavior or "archetypes" that influence an individual’s effectiveness within an organisation.

Published on 18 Dec, 2013